DC Wrongful Death Case Process

Wrongful death cases are a unique type of injury case because of the fact that someone has likely died very unexpectedly. As a result there are usually overwhelming emotional factors that come into play in communicating and dealing with surviving family members, in addition to practical issues that often arise. These factors and the unique nature of these cases mean it is important those impacted consult with a DC wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible to prepare for what to expect and begin filing a claim.

How Long a Wrongful Death Case Takes

The statute of limitations of wrongful death case is two years. Typically, it takes at least one year to obtain all the documentation that the letter is issued before filing a suit. Once a person files a suit, it typically takes 18 months to two years to begin the process in the court system. The process of a wrongful death case can be anywhere from two to four years from the day of death to receive a verdict or settlement. 

If the case settles before they file a lawsuit, it is going to go faster. If they file a lawsuit and try the case and it goes to appeals, it can take a long time. A lot depends on the insurance company and also the circumstances leading up to the individual’s death. 

Determining Cause of Death

The fact that somebody dies is significant. Many factors depend on how they died. If somebody dies because they got decapitated on a car accident case, the facts will be much different than if they died because they drowned. The manner of death factors into the way an attorney approaches a case investigation case and the cause of death can factor into the value. A wrongful death case is completed when distribution gets approved by the surrogate’s court. 

First Steps to Take

A wrongful death case process starts upon death and as such it is recommended that those impacted retain the services of an attorney as soon as possible. There is an applicable statute of limitations that applies to wrongful death claims which begins to accrue at the time of death.

It is important to consider that an attorney, regardless of how experienced or qualified they may be, cannot handle a wrongful death claim on behalf of his or her surviving family member until their services are retained. Therefore, a wrongful death case does not begin until the attorney is retained or the surviving members initiate a claim on their own. The case really begins at the time of death, but the attorney cannot do anything on behalf of his or her client until he or she is retained.

Investigative Process in a Wrongful Death Case

Investigating a wrongful death case can be complicated depending upon what facts and circumstances culminated in the death. The investigation truly depends upon how the death occurred.  If the death was a result of an automobile accident, then the attorney will be able to walk through the necessary steps of thoroughly investigating that issue. Alternatively, if the death resulted from some form of medical malpractice, then the attorney will take the necessary steps to investigate that particular claim. The manner in which the investigation is done really depends upon the manner of death.

 

When is a Wrongful Death Claim Complete?

A wrongful death case is completed when a judgment is entered. Typically, they are initiated by making contact with the at-fault party’s insurance company in order to seek compensation for the death.

Ultimately, some compromise may be obtained through the insurance company to pay the claim in exchange for a release. Other times, a settlement cannot be reached. If the settlement is not reached, the only available option for the surviving family members is to completely abandon the claim or initiate a lawsuit. Once a lawsuit is initiated, further negotiations may occur, but a lawsuit is typically resolved either through a settlement or through a jury rendering a verdict.